Medlock under attack

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Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock will be slammed in this morning's Tulsa Whirled over the status of his MBA degree from the University of Tulsa. Medlock was contacted Friday by Whirled reporter P. J. Lassek and told that they were investigating rumors that he did not actually have an MBA degree. This allegation stunned Medlock, who tells his side of the story on his blog:

The only thing more shocking to hear would've been to have been told something to the effect of, "Your campaign literature claims that you have been married to your wife Cheryl for 25 years, but we can find no record of your marriage." Just as I had, in 1979, stood before a Baptist preacher who was more nervous than I, and repeated wedding vows, I knew that I had gone to TU for a year and a half, and studied in the Graduate Business School.

He believed that he had completed all course work for the degree. Because he finished in August of 1992, there was no graduation ceremony for him to walk in, and by the time the next commencement rolled around, he was well-established in his job at T. D. Williamson and didn't seek to participate.

After hearing from Lassek, Medlock visited the TU registrar's office and discovered that he had an incomplete in one course in the Spring 1992 semester for failing to complete one paper. His recollection is that he could have taken a "C" in the course without the paper, but he asked for an incomplete to try to finish and keep his GPA at the needed level to graduate with honors. Over the summer, however, he worked a full-time job, took his final two courses, and worked 10-15 hours a week in the TU computer lab for the scholarship stipend he received, and the paper wasn't completed.

What I find amazing, thinking back to my college years, is that his faculty adviser didn't alert him to the problem. If I recall correctly, MIT checked the records of graduating students some months before commencement and alerted them to anything that might pose a problem.

I expect the Tulsa World and the rest of the Cockroach Caucus to make a mountain out of this molehill. Medlock attended all the required courses, did all the work, save for one paper, and for the last 13 years has believed that he finished his MBA. When the Whirled challenged him about it, he took the initiative to find out what happened and has shared that information openly and publicly.

In the meantime, it appears that the Cockroach Caucus was tipped off about the problem before Medlock was approached. At Thursday night's Council meeting, Councilor Bill Christiansen made reference to Medlock's MBA in a way that seemed like a rhetorical question, but then he waited until Medlock confirmed that he had the degree before going on with his remarks.

MORE: David Arnett comments at Tulsa Today that this is another example of the Whirled's "assassination by adjective."

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» MCW's oft-touted GED still incomplete from MeeCiteeWurkor

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» NEW DEPTHS FOR TULSA WORLD from HFFZ.org News

As demonstrated in its Sunday attempt to embarass Councilor Chris Medlock, honesty and fair play in Tulsa government is the last thing the Whirled's publisher wants. You have an opportunity to help fight the reprehensible conduct this newspaper eagerly... Read More

12 Comments

Mark Author Profile Page said:

Someone goes to school to get a post-graduate degree, and then simply ASSUMES he has received one? At the very least, I'd of started asking questions when I didn't get a diploma in the mail!

Reminds of the old Steve Martin line: "I forgot"

Warren said:

Oh come on, ANYONE would know whether they got a diploma or not. The issue itself is no big deal, but the lying about it is too much to swallow (remember, that's what landed Martha in the slammer.)

You'd have to be very credulous or very disingenuous to believe Medlock didn't know he hadn't finished.

Warren said:

To avoid fussbudgeting, let me rephrase that last sentence:

You'd have to be very credulous to believe or very disingenuous to claim Medlock didn't know he hadn't finished.

I didn't realize Medlock tooted his horn about the non-existent degree so much. He acknowledged that fact himself.

Here's a quote from the story about the diploma:

Medlock says he thought he had a degree, even though he never received his diploma.

"I'm not the kind of guy that cares about having a paper diploma," which he said would just end up in a box with the one he got for his undergraduate work.

Perhaps someone who was at TU in those years can tell us how they handled getting a diploma to someone not receiving it during commencement. Was it mailed automatically to the student's address? Did the student have to fill out a request to have it mailed? If he didn't care about having the piece of paper, and he had to take some initiative to get the piece of paper, that would explain why its failure to arrive wouldn't have raised any concerns.

He also said this about the incomplete:

"My memory was that if I didn't turn the paper in my A grade would drop to a C. At the time, I wanted to keep the A and stay honors so I asked to take an incomplete," he said.

Medlock said it was the summer of 1992, he had a new job, was working for the university and finishing his last semester, when he was told not to worry about the incomplete because it would just turn into a C grade.

I find it disturbing that the University of Tulsa would issue a statement to the press about the academic record of one of its students without notifying the student that it was releasing information. According to the Whirled story, they found out on Wednesday, but Medlock didn't know until Lassek contacted him on Friday.

Warren said:

It's not disturbing. TU only stated that he did not have the degree, just as they would have to a prospective employer.

marked said:

"I'm not the kind of guy that cares about having a paper diploma???" Last time I checked, a post secondary education was pretty worthless UNLESS you had a diploma! His explanation is disingenuous.

BTW: I am not a pro-recall hack. Not even this example of puffery justifies a recall.

Mike said:

I'm sure Chris Medlock isn't too proud of this revelation, as insignificant to the performance of his job of city councilor as it is. What I find interesting is how deeply P. J. Lassek pursues her investigative journalism when it involves an opponent of the Cockroach Caucus, while she seems to be able to ignore the fact that one member of said caucus doesn't even live in his own district.

Shadow6 said:

Michael Bates said:
"It's not disturbing. TU only stated that he did not have the degree, just as they would have to a prospective employer."

It seems to me that you have to authorize a prospective employer to allow them to access your academic records. If TU released any information about Medlock without his consent, they would be in violation of the Privacy Act of 1974.

I also think the Privacy act requires universities to keep a record of all requests made for a student's records. So Medlock could find out specifically who tried to snoop into his records.

I looked at Chris Medlock's blog, and a person from TU said he would have to come down and get information in person. So, again, how did anybody find out he did not have an MBA?

I found this link from TU's web site:
http://www.utulsa.edu/studentaffairs/rif.asp

...where they go into all kinds of detail about why thay cannot release records to just about anybody.

I found this from an Ohio State site:
http://www.ureg.ohio-state.edu/ourweb/more/Content/ferpa_pg1.html

"Each University unit has an obligation to keep a record of requests and disclosures of student record information except when the request is from the student, a University official with a legitimate educational interest, someone requesting directory information, or related to a request with consent from the student. Students have the right to review this record of requests and disclosures of student record information."

I support Chris Medlock. I think he was a doof to not lock down this MBA before he put it in his campaign information, or to continually mention it. That is Politics 101.

Fortunately for Medlock, you can be a doof in one little thing and still retain most of your loyal followers. I'm still in his corner.

After all, Chris Medlock lives in his district, and that is something Randy Sullivan cannot say.

Warren said:

Both the referenced TU and Ohio State links discuss "student educational records" in relation to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.

The TU page states:

"Educational records generally covered by federal privacy laws include grades, housing information, medical treatment (including hospitalization) enrollment and attendance information, financial status, results of disciplinary proceedings, etc."

The Ohio page states:

"The following categories of information are exempted and are not considered to be 'education records:'

"Records only related to a former student (alumni records). Records of that individual while a student continue to be considered education records."

I don't get from either page that the university can't disclose whether a degree was or was not obtained. If the grades and attendance had been revealed, yes, it would have been a violation.

Isn't all this simply a diversion from the fact that Medlock got caught stretching the truth?

True, it's really no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but since Medlock made a big point of touting his credentials, then proved not to have them, he looks like a blowhard and a chump.

W. said:

I read the World's story. All TU revealed was that Medlock did not have a degree. No more, no less. Confronted with that fact, Medlock came clean and revealed his full transcript to the World.

Considering that resume-padding is an ongoing problem (remember George O'Malley going for the Notre Dame football job?), prospective employers and the media don't want privacy laws so restrictive that you can't confirm anything. If you have a job applicant who claims he got a doctorate from Yale, you'd better have a way of calling the school and verifying it. Or else, every Tom, Dick and Harry would make outrageous claims about their education and there would be no way to refute or confirm them. I think such a degree of disclosure is necessary.

So the privacy law claim is moot.

concerened said:

I think its even better that Sam roop had to chime in with his 2 cents at the end...makes me think a LOT less of him as my former WHATEVER

Ron said:

Medlock says it's his recollection that he requested an incomplete in the class. If that's the case, he knew at the time he didn't get credit for the course and therefore didn't have his degree.

I have to wonder what the hue and cry would be if this were Christianson or Sullivan, instead of Medlock. Why is it lying for one, and an innocent mistake for another?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 24, 2005 1:06 AM.

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